First: if you have not yet seen Pariah, I suggest you remedy that. I fell completely for the protagonist Alike (say it uh-lee-kay) and her attempts to express her identity through poetry, clothing, friendships, relationships. The movie has a lot of heart, a lot of strong performances, and pulls no punches. Here are a few other things it does well.
The specificity of the setting. Stories that resonate universally come from particular places. There’s no such thing as a portable story, as Robert McKee says in StoryÂ and I quoted five years ago talking about The Wire.Â
The assumption of viewer intelligence.Â Pariah drops you right into Alike’s life, without wasting time hitting you over the head with where you are and who everyone is.
Doesn’t get rid of the parents. There are strong scenes in Pariah that focus on Alike’s mom and/or dad, with Alike herself offscreen. They’re very effective in showing the pressures both parents are under that affect the way they interact with their daughter.
Storytelling via fashion.Â I’m a big fan of the way identity can be conveyed through style choices, and Pariah does this very deliberately, as Eniola Dawodu explains.
In conclusion: more like this, please.